Vigil at La Jolla Shores held in memory of mall shooting victim

Ilona Flint’s stepfather, Nathan Jones, urges those in attendance to remember her as she was, and not how she died. Event organizer Andre Briones is pictured at far left.

By Pat Sherman

Friends and relatives remembered 22-year-old shooting victim Ilona Gregorievna Flint during a candlelight vigil on the beach at La Jolla Shores early Saturday evening, Dec. 28.

Flint and Salvatore Belvedere (also 22) were at Westfield Mission Valley Mall on Christmas Eve morning when they were both shot in the head.  The victims were found in a car parked near Macy’s department store at around 1:30 a.m.

Shooting victim Ilona Gregorievna Flint (1991-2013). Courtesy

Flint, who was able to phone 911 on her cell phone, died later that morning. Belvedere, who was taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital in critical condition, was pronounced dead on Friday, Dec. 27.

Flint’s fiancé, Gianni Belvedere (who is Salvatore’s brother), has been missing since the evening of Dec. 23, when he was last seen at the Tierrasanta home he shared with Flint and his brother. Police have not listed Gianni Belvedere as a suspect in the crime, though members of both families are pleading for his safe return.

Flint’s friend and former La Jolla employer, Andre Rene Briones, organized the weekend vigil. Flint was employed for about 10 months at Briones’ former La Jolla clothing boutique, James Grant, on La Jolla Boulevard (near Pearl Street).

Briones said Flint responded to an advertisement he placed on Craigslist, and was his final applicant interview. “I knew within seconds I was going to hire her,” he told La Jolla Light, adding that she proved to be “the hardest working person I ever met.”

“She was extremely focused and strong,” Briones said, adding that, though petite, Flint displayed the same emotional and physical strength in his presence that he imagines it took her to call 911 in the final moments of her life.

During the vigil, attended by about 50 people, Flint’s stepfather, Nathan Jones, addressed the crowd. “The lantern that burns twice as bright lives half as long,” Jones said, his words choked with emotion. “Ilona, your life burned that much brighter because you lived a fraction as long as you should have.”

Briones said the Belvedere brothers would often take turns picking Ilona up from work. During the vigil, he recalled them as “three of the kindest, gentlest people I’d ever met.”

Police have released a vague description of a possible suspect who is described as a man wearing tan pants, between 5-foot-9 and 5-foot-11 in height. A 2008 to 2011 dark gray Honda sedan was listed as a possible vehicle of interest in the case.

San Diego Police issued a missing person’s bulletin for Gianni Belvedere on Dec. 27 that describes him as an Italian-American male with brown hair and brown eyes, 6 feet tall and 165 pounds. He was likely driving a four-door, dark green 2004 Toyota Camry XLE with the Utah license plate number B154VZ.

The family of Salvatore Belvedere held a vigil for him Wednesday evening, Jan. 1 at Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach, where they announced a $10,000 reward for information about his missing brother.

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Posted by Pat Sherman on Dec 31, 2013. Filed under Featured Story, News, Region. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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